Biden says ‘expects’ Iran to launch attack against Israel soon

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden has said he expects Iran to launch an attack against Israel “sooner than later” as Middle East tensions soar.

Iran will respond to Israel’s deadly attack on its embassy compound in Damascus, Syria, “sooner rather than later,” according to US President Joe Biden.

Biden said he did not want to elaborate on what classified intelligence Washington had about Tehran’s plans.

“We are devoted to the defense of Israel. We will support Israel. We will help defend Israel. And Iran will not succeed,” he said.

When asked by a journalist what his message to Tehran would be, Biden replied: “Don’t.”

In view of Iran’s possible imminent retaliatory strike against Israel, the US earlier announced that it was increasing its military presence in the Middle East.

“We are moving additional assets to the region to bolster regional deterrence efforts and increase force protection for US forces,” a US defense official told German news agency on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

With the world on high alert, countries including France and India issued travel advisories warning their citizens to avoid Israel and Iran. The US embassy in Israel also issued a security warning for its employees in light of the situation.

Iran is adjusting its strategies for a significant retaliatory attack while avoiding triggering a regional conflict that would prompt a response from Washington, Biden administration officials said Friday.

“Iran is planning a larger-than-usual aerial attack on Israel in the coming days, one that will likely feature a mix of missiles and drone strikes,” two US officials told a news website on condition of anonymity.

Neither official expressed complete confidence that Iran would manage to strike Israel without provoking a military response from the US, as any attack raises the possibility of escalating tensions and conflict in the Middle East.

But the officials underlined that Iran has no intention of exacerbating the regional crisis.

“The Biden administration expects Iran’s response in the coming days — as early as this weekend,” according to one official.

In recent days, Iranian leaders have clearly said the country would respond strongly to a deadly attack on a diplomatic facility in Syria.

Describing the attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus as a “mistake,” by Israel, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that Israel “will be punished” for it, raising speculation that retaliatory military action is imminent.

He said the attack amounts to an attack on Iranian soil.

The US State Department warned Americans in Israel on Thursday against traveling outside major cities.

Washington also asked its embassy employees and their families in Israel to restrict their travel in the country amid threats by Iran to retaliate for the attack.

Israel is on high alert amid fears of a possible Iranian attack on Israeli targets for the alleged Israeli strike on April 1.

At least seven members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were killed in the attack, including two top generals.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz threatened Wednesday that his country’s military would strike Iran directly if Tehran launched an attack from its territory against Israel.

The escalation comes as Israel continues to wage a deadly military offensive on the Gaza Strip following a cross-border attack in early October by the Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, which killed less than 1,200 people.

More than 33,600 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza and over 76,000 injured, in addition to causing mass destruction and displacement.

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